Monday, May 12, 2008

Tight Hip Flexors Diminishes Athletic Performance

Great athletes dominate athletic movements with the hips, glutes, quadriceps and hamstrings. All of these muscle regions need to work properly or you will not compete on a high level.

The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the body. The anatomy of the gluteal region (gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus) is shown below:



The glutes don't fire properly when the hip flexors (psoas, iliacus, tensor fascia latae, etc.) are overactive or tight. This can happen due to poor flexibility or prolonged sitting. When the hip flexors don't work properly, its antagonist (mainly the gluteus maximus) becomes weak.

This is known as reciprocal inhibition (when muscles on one side of a joint become tight or overactive, it shuts down the muscles on the other side of the joint).

When a prime mover (such as the gluteus maximus) becomes weak, other muscles (synergists) take over the function that the prime mover should be doing. Some injuries that occur because of inactive glutes are hamstring injuries, piriformis syndrome, knee ACL tears and low back injuries. Okay, enough of the technical stuff!


So, what do you need to do to fire up your glutes?! First, you need to understand why your glutes are not firing properly. They are probably not receiving the neural drive from your central nervous system.

So, it is probably not an issue of strength. Their are some exercises you can do to correct this problem. First, you need to lengthen tight muscles. The stretches are listed as follows (use self myofascial release with foam roller before doing these stretches):

1. Hip Flexor Stretch
2. Quadriceps Stretch
3. Bodyweight Lateral Lunges (for adductors)

Then, you need to activate (fire up) your glutes with these exercises:

1. Glute Bridge
2. Opposite Leg Opposite Arm Raise
3. Glute Kickbacks

Lastly, exercise the fired up glutes with these exercises:

1. Bodyweight squats
2. Lateral tube walks
3. Walking Lunges

Be sure and download your Free Bodyweight 500 Metabolic Fat Burner Workouts and start shaping your body faster!  There are 3 levels:  beginner, intermediate and advanced.  Start at your level and progress.

Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
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